Go ahead do it, even if badly

?I do it badly…like I do a lot of things? ?Anne Lamott

Here?s the thing about being a chicken. You get yourself nestled into a corner behind a tall barrier; you?re comfortable, teetering on ironic confidence. Although you hear the chaos around you, it?s quiet down low, just the mud beneath your feet and the mask distorting your view.
Eventually, it gets quiet. Too quiet. So you peek around the wall to the safe zone, you count your allies… one, two. You count your rivals? one, two. Problem. Where is three? Reality settles in.
You can avoid it for a while, but the pressure builds. The moment has come when it?s just you and her. Someone is going down. You inhale, knowing fully in your head and your heart, it will be you. Because you are 42 years old and you are on a paintball course with someone who can actually shoot straight.
And so the story goes. I was in a three-on-three war at a paintball range with friends for the first time a few months ago. I did it, and I did it badly.
Writer Anne Lamott?s words got my head spinning about doing things badly. She said ?I?m a terrible Chris?tian…. I do it badly like I do a lot of things. I believe in doing things badly. I believe in doing what calls you from your heart and spirit and if you do it badly, like learning to dance, you do it or you?re going to kick yourself when you?re old….?
It must have resonated for a reason. For more than one reason. Because when I stop and think about it, it?s not just paintball. I do a lot of things badly.
Maybe years of failure have built up my will. I don?t mean to say I?m a failure so much as I?ve grown accustomed to a typical level of mediocrity. It?s only natural since years have gone by, attempts at things have been made, and all levels of average to fiasco have resulted?and collectively, I think, have produced an adequate recovery rate?that I am at settled into less than perfect.
At least I have learned to not be afraid (The paintball leaves a bruise, but the anticipation of the hit hurts more than the hit itself.)
I decided once, in about 1993, that I was going to do my first 5-k fun run. If I thought at all, I thought that years of step aerobics (remember, it wasn?t far removed from the ?80s) would have conditioned my body for this.
I blindly started and I barely finished. On paper it looked respectable, with a time of just over 25 minutes. I also remember waves of nausea that lasted 30 minutes and a knee injury that lasted six weeks.
But no matter. After that day, I was a runner. A bad runner, yes, but a runner all the same. Since then I have been in more 5Ks than I can count. Some I ran, some I ran/walked, some I walked. I?m not good. I?m not graceful. I have never had a better personal time than that first race and I have never wanted, or been able, to run more than a 5-k distance.
I don?t know how much time or distance are required to be considered a runner, but if I still am one, even intermittently, I am still a bad one. That?s just fine with me because I was never destined for endurance. Or distance. Or stamina. Still, it?s been something to do, not to win, but for fun, and actually enjoy it in that way.
Essayist and writer Katherine Weissman knew she couldn?t sing. So she didn?t. Until someone asked her in church why she was clapping and moving to the music with tightly held lips. ?Because I can?t sing,? she whispered. She said she then heard the most five beautiful words, ?Do you think God cares??
She explained, ?I?ve learned that it?s a blessing when you can take something you once weighted down with shame and turn it into a pleasure. There?s an art to doing things badly, especially in a society that puts so much emphasis on beauty, perfection, and achievement.?
The idea that it?s OK to be ?less than? once in awhile in a world that so regularly implies otherwise is like an enormous exhale.
If there really is an art to doing things badly, then game on.